This is an amended extract from my latest book, Divorce & Splitting Up: Advice From a Top Divorce Lawyer.
You’re all done? Congratulations! You have freedom and choices. You cannot know if the path ahead will be smooth, but at least you are moving in a forward direction.
Your decree absolute will land on your doormat, sent by your solicitor. But although you are now divorced, there are still a few little things to follow up on.
– Are you changing your surname? Sometimes wives wish to do so, and it’s an easy process. All you need to do is complete a statutory declaration or deed poll. A solicitor can help you, or your local Citizens Advice Bureau can advise further. As previously noted, if you wish to change your children’s surnames you will need permission of the children’s father or an order of the court, which is rarely granted.
– Have you informed your children’s schools that the divorce has been finalised? Schools should be kept up-to-date so that they can monitor your children and give them extra care and support, if necessary.
– Have you changed your will? Your old will should be changed if it makes reference to a former spouse, although any bequest to a former spouse would automatically fail unless the will made it clear the provision was to last following the decree absolute. Please also remember that if you remarry, any will made before remarriage will be invalid.
– Have you applied for a new passport, bearing your new details? Visit www.ips.gov.uk for further information.
– Have you informed your mortgage lender of any changed details or relevant developments?
– Have you closed any joint bank accounts, as per the court order?
– Have you changed the personal contact details on any remaining bank accounts and credit cards? Some banks will allow you to do this over the telephone; others will insist on a face-to-face meeting and supporting documentation such as your decree absolute and utilities bills.
– Have you applied for a new driver’s licence, bearing your new details? Visit www.dvla.gov.uk for further information. Failure to do this could result in a fine.
– Have you updated the details on any relevant insurance policies?
– Have you notified Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs of your new situation and contact details? Visit www.hmrc.gov.uk for further information.
– Have you updated the relevant details on telephone and utilities bills? These could range from changed correspondence details to new friends and family numbers.
– Where applicable: have you visited your local benefits office, to discover what you may now be entitled to claim? Visit www.dwp.gov.uk/contactus for further information.
– Have you signed the necessary forms to resign from any business assets in which you previously had an interest?
There are still challenges that you are likely to encounter over the course of the coming year. The stress of a divorce cannot be underestimated. When the case is over, it can be like the lid coming off the top of a pressure cooker. In my experience, people are particularly vulnerable at this time. They can feel lonely and sad. Mood swings, panic attacks and depression are all normal.
Now it is time for you to rebuild your life. Take things day by day, step by step. Above all, don’t keep glancing towards the past and wondering, “what if?” You have already hit the bottom: now the only way is up.
Divorce & Splitting Up: Advice From a Top Divorce Lawyer by Marilyn Stowe is the essential how-to book for anyone who is getting divorced or splitting up from a partner.
“Clear, concise and frank – just what you need in this situation” – Mrs Karen Taylor, reader.